All that stuff: getting a clear picture of the industrial inventory

Auditing a production site typically begins with drawing a complete map of all the equipment in place. Yet this isn’t as easy as it may sound. Production lines tend to be long, complex and have protracted life spans with several rounds of repairs and improvements. So it’s not unusual for no-one on site to have a complete up-to-date list of all the sensors, controllers, robots and other parts of the system.

Basic network discovery tools that use standard protocols are of little help for tasks like these, as they can only discover some — but not all — equipment. That’s why, in addition to SNMP protocol which is a standard for communication networks, NetXMS network discovery functionality uses specific industrial protocols as well, such as EthernetIP and MODBUS-TCP. They allow NetXMS to discover all the inventory, including not only network communication equipment but also sensors and controllers usually missed by tools based only on SNMP.

Moreover, not only does NetXMS discover all these pieces of equipment, but it also goes one step further and collects all essential information about them, such as the producer and production date, as well as performance data about each unit. Thus, industrial auditors and consultants have robust benchmark data for further work, allowing them to suggest the most effective interventions. Compare working in twilight with operating in broad daylight, and you’ll get the idea of the difference between standard tools and NetXMS.

Complete discovery of the equipment on site usually takes just a couple of hours. To get the most out of this operation, specific data collection templates created previously can be used. These templates are highly customisable and are dependent on the exact situations and goals of the end customers. The laptop that ran the NetXMS network discovery tool can then be taken off site with all the precious network topology and inventory collection data for analytics and visualisations. Another option is to gather performance data continuously — NetXMS can perform it as well if required, which makes it a powerful and highly customisable all-in-one tool.

“Consultancies and their customers can choose whether to share data collection templates with the client or use them as proprietary know-how. NetXMS offers a variety of choices,” says Victor Kirhenshtein, COB of Raden Solutions.

The specific adjustment in industrial protocol use, as well as the customisation options and wide range of functionality makes NetXMS a perfect tool for industrial consultants, as it allows them to make sharp evidence-based recommendations that really help boost production capacity and save costs for factory owners.

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